How to Handle a Dog Bite Injury or Claim

When a dog bites you, you have a lot more to think about than just the initial pain–though it can be severe. In reality, these can be particularly nasty injuries and cause ongoing pain and injury. You may miss work, require extensive medical care and go through unimaginable suffering from even a seemingly small dog bite. As such, the dog’s owner may be responsible for some or all of the costs associated with this incident. That is why it is so important to handle things 100% properly–to assure you can obtain the level of care and potential reimbursement you deserve. We’ve put together some simple guidance for you to follow in case you find yourself the victim of a dog bite or similar incident.

  • Get Medical AttentionNo matter how inconsequential the bite seems, go ahead and seek medical attention immediately. Even a seemingly minor bite may require medical treatment, and you will want to make sure the wound is properly cleaned to avoid infection. In addition, if things become worse at a later date, you have a documented link between injury or illness that occurs and the bite incident.
  • Report the Bite – While most people who own dogs are responsible and want to make sure things are handled properly, they often do not want to risk legal trouble themselves. Unfortunately, you can’t let this happen. Don’t let the owner talk you out of reporting the incident to local law enforcement. Depending on your location, animal control or the local sheriff’s department may handle the case. Having this information recorded by an authority figure protects you and potentially others in the future. Plus, if you fail to report the bite, it may make seeking a legal remedy much harder.
  • Gather InformationGet information from the owner such as their phone number and address so you can contact them in the future. Also, collecting information about the dog itself can be helpful to the medical professionals,  so they know how to proceed with treatment. If you are too injured to do it yourself, have a third party collect this important data and pass it to you later. A law enforcement officer on scene may be able to do this for you as well.
  • Photograph Injuries – Take photos as soon as you can. Even a simple photo from your phone may make future litigation easier. This is evidence that may help you with a case in the future. If possible, taking photos both before you seek medical care and afterwards will give more information that can help your lawyer later.
  • Have Your Lawyer Handle Statements – You will likely be contacted within a few days by the dog owner’s insurance company. Do not make a statement about the case until you’ve discussed things with a lawyer. He or she will help you determine the best course of action and may even deal with the insurance company for you. Saying the wrong thing could make litigation more complicated than it needs to be.

As always, if you have any questions about dealing with any legal (or potential legal) matter, it is important to discuss things with a qualified professional. Reach out to our office by phone or online with concerns and we would be happy to help!